Whisky Mac – A free-flowering favourite

These amber-yellow, perfectly shaped blooms are probably the most popular flowers ever produced on a bush rose. When first introduced, ‘Whisky Mac’ rapidly became one of the best-selling roses.




Prune, feed with rose fertilizer, spray with a general fungicide.



Give a second feed of rose fertilizer in late July.


Flowering period.

Systematically deadhead (remove faded flower-heads) to encourage new blossoms. Apply fungicide as necessary.



After flowering, cut down by a third or slightly more to reduce wind damage.



Earth up around the stock (point where stems enter the ground. Mulch (cover) base with wood shavings or other protection.

Add sulphate of potash at 50g per square metre in February. This develops a tougher plant with greater resistance to die-back and disease.

Although particularly attractive, amber yellow roses such as ‘Whisky Mac’ are often susceptible to disease. Pay strict attention to spraying and be careful not to overfeed. Some similarly coloured roses such as ‘Valencia’ are less delicate. ‘Whisky Mac’ will occasionally send up an extra vigorous, tall flowering shoot. Shorten this by half immediately it has finished flowering. Leaving it makes the rose more vulnerable to damage in winter winds. Similarly, ensure roots are firmed in to avoid root rock.

The beautiful coloration and the scented blossom of the ‘Whisky Mac’ rose have captured the imagination of rose-growers throughout the world.

Many nurseries use the simple name ‘Whisky’ when cataloguing this rose. There is also a climbing ‘Whisky’ which flourishes on a warm wall and grows to about 3m in height.


Plant as a bare-root bush during autumn, winter or early spring. Alternatively, buy a container-grown plant in late spring or early summer. Never plant in old rose-beds unless the soil has been entirely replaced to a depth of 50cm. ‘Whisky Mac’ is happiest in a warm position in a deep, fertile soil in which roses have not been grown for at least five years. Never attempt to grow ‘Whisky Mac’ in a chalky soil or where there is a high lime content. It will simply die.

Cultivating ‘Whisky Mac’ is a moderate grower, reaching up to 1.25m at maturity, with a very bushy habit. When well maintained, it is extremely free flowering and is one of the earliest roses to come into bloom. The deep copper-coloured foliage also appears early.


‘Whisky Mac’ is a soft grower, which means that it does not thrive in heavy clay soils where root conditions are damp and drainage restricted.

Hard frost can also cause damage. Protect by heaping wood shavings or composted bark around the base of the plant in November. Remove this before spring pruning.

In many gardens it is semi-hardy and sSuffers considerably from die-back. The stems, particularly in winter, may die off at an alarming rate. ‘Whisky Mac’ does not normally require watering unless it is newly planted in a container. Where this is the case, watering must be continued until the plant has become established.

Give ‘Whisky Mac’ a rose feed immediately after pruning and again just after midsummer. Never feed again after this time.

Prune in early March using a sharp pair of secateurs, and cutting right back to hard wood. This will often mean that three-quarters of the plant must be cut away. Remove any scrubby or dead stems. Cuts should show white wood; if they are brown, cut back further.

Whisky Mac


Sunny but sheltered. A delicate rose that needs careful attention to where it is situated.


Warm, well-drained, crumbly textured soil with a high humus (decayed organic matter) content. Does not tolerate chalky soil or soil with a high lime content.


Prune back stems to live wood and protect well in winter.


To combat black spot and mildew, which are common problems with ‘Whisky Mac’, spray after pruning and again every fortnight from the end of June. Use a comprehensive rose fungicide. Also, spray with an aphicide in June to control greenfly infestation.

Watch carefully for signs of die-back (leaves and stems turn brown). This may occur in summer as well as in winter. If die-back is severe, dig out and try a different variety in a different location.

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